KFCU Says Feature Helps Overcome BofA's Presence

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One oft-heard objection to credit union membership is CUs are not as convenient as banks- especially mega-banks such as Bank of America, whose ubiquitous presence seemingly includes a branch on every corner.

One credit union says it has a solution: a mapping tool on its website that allows it to demonstrate to potential members the power and convenience of the cooperative ATM networks shared by many CUs.

Bradley Leimer, vice president of marketing for Kaiperm FCU, said his CU is one of several working with LocatorSearch - a company based in New York City and Long Beach, Calif., to provide such a solution. Leimer said the LocatorSearch tool makes business development presentations easy.

"We serve Kaiser Permanente employees in California, mostly Northern California, plus the company's health plan members," he explained. "When we go to new employee orientations each week, we have half an hour to get their attention and get people to sign up for the credit union. We show the locator tool on our website as a way to illustrate convenience."

During the orientations, new employees are asked to give their zip code or address. In seconds, a map pops up showing all branch and ATM locations in the area. In addition to ATMs in Kaiser hospitals and administrative facilities, Kaiperm FCU is affiliated with the CU Service Center Network, CO-OP Network and Bank of the West. "All told, there are more than 25,000 ways for members to access their accounts," said Leimer. "Though we're small, we don't have a small footprint. The tool allows us to show people we are just as convenient as the large banks, if not more."

Early Adopter

Karl Kraus, president of LocatorSearch, said Kaiperm FCU was one of the company's earliest clients. "They are one of our beta-testers for some things."

LocatorSearch has 25 clients-hree banks, 22 CUs, he continued. Technology allows each client to build its own branch/ATM locator tool. "No two clients have to look alike," he said. "It is not a template; it can be customized. This allows the tool to integrate with the financial institution's website. It looks embedded, not outsourced."

LocatorSearch's next step will be to meet specialized needs of some credit unions. Kraus said one CU would like to have the map show locations of affiliated car-buying services. Another offers discounts to its members at certain businesses in its area. "There are lots of things credit unions can do," he declared.

Kaiperm's Leimer said he has been impressed with the way LocatorSearch continues to add features to the mapping tool. One of the newer innovations is the ability to send directions to a phone or e-mail address.

According to Kraus, credit unions can use his company's tools to send targeted e-mails to members. "There are many different facets that can be integrated in many different ways," said Kraus, who formerly worked at Kraft CU. "Most important, it shows people credit unions really do have more locations than people think they do."

Leimer agreed: "Bank of America is lying when they say they have the largest ATM network. There are many ATM networks larger than BofA's 16,000. We are huge proponents of the shared network, and this tool pulls it all together in a graphical way. We love the tool because people can go to our website and find us."

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